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Tuesday, 27 November, 2001, 11:33 GMT
Christopher Robin revealed
The footage of Christopher Robin in 1929
The footage shows a nine-year-old Christopher Robin
Unique film, shot 70 years ago, of the real life Christopher Robin will be broadcast for the first time on Tuesday.

The footage shows the son of Pooh author AA Milne, Christopher Robin Milne, taking part in a pageant in 1929 along with his friends Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Tigger and Kanga.

Until now no one realised that Christopher's performance had been captured by a film enthusiast.

The film, to be screened on the BBC's Southern Eye, is part of a documentary to celebrate Pooh's 75th birthday.

Surprising discovery

In the short section of film Christopher Robin leads a parade in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex, and is followed by the other characters, played by local school children.

The film was discovered by producer Helen Kent, from Winchester, Hampshire.

EH Shepard's drawing of Christopher Robin and Pooh playing Poohsticks
Christopher Robin and Pooh play Poohsticks

"I wanted the programme to show what Ashdown Forest looked like in the 1920s, when Christopher Robin spent his holidays there, and I found out there was a film called Ashdown Forest 1929.

"But the South East Film and Video Archive, which owns the film, said it just showed an historical pageant rather than scenes of forest life, so I forgot about it."

Then she read Christopher Robin's autobiography in which he describes taking part in a pageant in the Ashdown Forest when he was nine, in 1929.

"I immediately rang the archive back and asked them to look at the film again and see if any of it matched Christopher's description of himself as a child being followed by school children dressed as Pooh, Piglet, Eyeore, Tigger and Kanga.

"Amazingly there were a few seconds which matched exactly.

"I couldn't believe I had discovered actual footage of the real Christopher Robin Milne."

'Impossible' find

In his book Christopher wrote: "The pageant went its memorable way, and I see it now like an ancient cine film, much faded and blurred and with many breaks, but with here and there a sequence as vivid as the day it was shot.

"It was exciting doing my bit."

Frank Gray, director of the archive, was amazed at the find.

Percy Nightingale
Percy Nightingale shot the film

"If anyone had asked me would this film exist I would have said no. Eighty per cent of the films from the 1920s have been lost," he said.

"This is the only film we have of the Ashdown Forest from that period, so for this one film to be the film that also showed Christopher Robin was virtually impossible."

The Milne family had a holiday home at Cotchford Farm on the edge of the forest.

The film was taken by Percy Nightingale a corn merchant from Crawley, Hampshire, who died in 1964.

Percy's youngest daughter Carol Moller, who lives near Horsham, West Sussex, said: "It's wonderful that his film is going to be shown on television.

"He loved Sussex, he thought it was the best county in England, and it's great that his work hasn't been forgotten."

The documentary "The Real World of Winnie-the-Pooh" is presented by 10-year-old Joel Pitts.

He tells the story of how AA Milne and illustrator EH Shepard turned Christopher's bear into one of the world's most famous characters.

In the programme Joel navigates his way around Ashdown Forest using the map Shepard drew of the Hundred Aker Wood and finds that Roo's Sandy Pit, Galleon's Lap and other landmarks in the stories still exist.

The Southern Eye programme is screened on BBC Two at 1930 GMT.

The BBC's Jenny Craddock
"These few seconds...remained undiscovered for more than 70 years"

Click here for more from Southern Counties
See also:

14 Oct 01 | England
Pooh celebrates 75th birthday
16 Aug 01 | Business
Disney sued over Pooh royalties
22 May 01 | Arts
Pooh letters go to auction
21 Jul 99 | Education
Winnie the Pooh goes to university
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